The Role of Technology: Implementing the New Urban Agenda to Achieve Sustainable Development

SDGs

With the advancement of technology nowadays, the role of science and innovation is increasingly valued when it comes to realizing sustainable development goals. The meeting focused specifically on SDG 11(Sustainable Cities and Communities) on implementing new urban agenda with the aid of technology.

The meeting began with a series of opening speeches delivered by distinguished guests. Mr Elefante first illustrated the significance of digital design making tools, such as information modelling, to foster innovation on building and designing cities. Dr Abu-Ghazaleh mentioned that technology acts as driver for everyday life in modern age and brings people and issues to a single community. Mr Guier provided certain examples that highlighted the importance of connecting technology to data on sustainability, including automated waste collection programs and driverless car schemes. Ms Sherif, the Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Habitat, added that climate change also posed challenges in promoting inclusive and sustainable growth of cities. Dr. Lubin described the linkage between corporates, cities and sustainability by the business sustainability maturity curve.

The conference followed by two dialogue sessions conducted by different representatives. The first focuses on the emergence of technology where speakers presented various types of information technologies that are incorporated in daily lives. For example, robotics, big data and artificial intelligence. In order to achieve a unified vision on the use of technology to develop sustainable cities, panellists agreed that accountability, public will and team environment are critical elements to be facilitated. The second session concerns the Network 11 Initiative in the Arab region that outlined the challenges of operating in (post-) conflict urban context as well as difficulties in addressing the gap between humanitarian aid and development.

Meeting: United Nations Human Settlements Programme: The Role of Technology: Implementing the New Urban Agenda to Achieve Sustainable Development

Date/Location: Conference Room 2, UNHQ NYC; 10:00-13:00; June 20th 2018

Speakers: Ms Maimunah Mohd Sherif (UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Habitat)

Mr. Carl Elefante (FAIA, President, American Institute of Architects)

Mr Guy Gier (FAIA, President, American Institute of Architects of New York)

Dr. David A. Lubin (Co-Chairman and Managing Director, Constellation Research and Technology, Inc.)

Mr Michal Mlynar (Permanent Representative of Slovak Republic to the United Nations)

Professor Urs Gauchat (CSU, Dean Emeritus of the College of Architecture and Design)

Mr. John Paul Farner (Director of Technology and Civic Innovation, Microsoft)

Mr Jason Whittet (Associate Director in Innovation in Urban Data and Technology, Rockefeller Foundation)

Professor Sarah Williams (Director, Civic Data Design Lab, MIT School of Architecture and Planning)

Professor Mahesh Daas (Ed.D, DPACSA, ACSA Distinguished Professor, Dean, School of Architecture and Design, University of Kansas)

Mr. Phillip G. Bernstein (FAIA RIBA LEED APM Associate Dean and Senior Lecturer Yale School of Architecture)

Dr Talal Abu-Ghazaleh (PhD, CEO, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization, Senator)

Professor Lance Jay Brown (FAIA, CSU, ACSA Distinguished Professor, CCNY Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture)

Ms Zena Ali-Ahed (Director, Regional Office for Arab States, UN-Habitat)

Written By: WIT representative, Rosalind Cheung

Urban Prosperity and Urban Inequalities

Pathways and Concerns for the Future

Vladimir Drobnjak the Vice President of the Economic and Social Council opened the meeting by noting that 67 million new urban dwellers would reside in cities and towns within developing countries before 2020. It is therefore clear that leaders around the world have a very important role to navigate and plan for these impacts on their cities now to ensure equitable and effective urbanisation.

Mayor of Johannesburg Mpho Parks Tau explained that when communities took responsibility for inclusive programs by creating partnerships with the private sector, expenditures on the government went down and communities benefitted greatly. Mayor Tau also explained the importance for clean energy initiatives to meet the needs of urbanised areas, which Johannesburg has already begun approaching through 150 hybrid public buses; these buses run on a mix of biofuel and diesel and will be operational by the end of 2014.

ImageJohannesburg 

While the urbanization of African nations offers the chance for dramatic economic growth and empowerment through development there are strong concerns for the inequalities that could arise. Mr Carrasco, Prefect of Azuay in Ecuador, shared his conclusion that inequalities were due to limited access to services and the trend towards decentralization of the State. Mr Carrasco recommended that citizens be included in the processes of planning, building and implementing development procedures to encourage participation and strengthen the social fabric of new urban populations.

H.E. Michal Mlynár, Ambassador of Slovakia, and Ms. Carmen Griffiths explained the impact of urbanization could be disproportionately challenging on women. Ms. Griffiths emphasized concerns towards the large levels of crime in cities, particularly crimes against women. H.E. Mlynár explained inequalities among urban populations had increased in the last 20 years, and stressed that security was among the fundamental human rights that people expected, yet leaders failed to recognize that security challenges were often rooted in inequalities.

 

Meeting Title: Economic and Social Council 16th meeting: Dialogue on “Urban prosperity and urban inequalities”
Speakers: Vladimir Drobnjak Vice President of the Economic and Social Council, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira from UN-Habitat, H.E. Mayor Mpho Parks Tau of Johannesburg, Mr. Paul Carrasco Prefect from Azuay, Zoubida Allaoua representing Sustainable Development at the World Bank, Carmen Griffiths from Construction Resource and Development Center Jamaica, H.E. Michal Mlynár Ambassador of Slovakia, Professor Paul Romer from New York University
Date: 28 May 2014
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark